09/06/2016, 15.03
PAKISTAN
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Faisalabad bishop: Pakistan is mourning for the attack on Peshawar’s Christian colony (Video)

by Kamran Chaudhry

Four Taliban terrorists, who targeted Christians on Warsak Road, blew themselves up after a gun fight with police that lasted 40 minutes. Farooq Masih’s house went to pieces, but he and his family managed to get to safety. The attackers wanted to kidnap women and children.

Lahore (AsiaNews) – All Pakistan "is in mourning for last-week’s Taliban attack against the Christian colony on Warsak Road near Peshawar," said Mgr Arshad Joseph, bishop of Faisalabad and president of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, and Shane Cecil Chaudhry, executive director of the same commission.

Catholic leaders strongly condemn the two terrorist attacks that left a trail of blood in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province: the first one, against the Christian minority, the second, against Mardan courthouse, which killed 13 people and injured 60 others, including lawyers, police and civilians.

On 2 September, at dawn, four terrorists from Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban group, attacked a district inhabited by Christians. Samuel Masih, 50, who was on his way to work at a hospital, was killed instantly. The Taliban then became involved in a gun fight with security forces that lasted 40 minutes.

The latter avoided worst consequences by forcing the attackers to seek refuge on rooftops of the government building, which was empty at that time. Eventually, the terrorists triggered the explosive belts they were wearing.

One of the four jumped onto the porch of Farooq Masih’s house, just across from the courthouse. He was inside with his wife and five children.

Farooq told AsiaNews that as soon as he heard the first shots, the family gathered in the back room of the house. "I grabbed my son Suleman who was in the bathroom and locked the door,” he said. “I moved two sofas against the door to block access."

His quick thinking saved the family because then the terrorists shot up the door.

"We were lying on the ground. I do not know what happened. We heard two explosions outside and one of my daughters fainted. Bricks were falling everywhere. I opened the back door and I had everyone crawl to the neighbour's house. We looked like sheep. We broke down the front door and we hid. After five minutes our house exploded. "

The battle lasted around three hours and Farooq Masih lost everything. His house was destroyed, and three others were partially damaged.

Samuel Masih instead was struck by nine bullets. He was buried the next day. His funeral was celebrated by Anglican Bishop Earnest Jacob, three pastors and a Catholic priest. The bishop called for Christian enclaves across Pakistan to be guaranteed greater security.

Farooq Masih said that the police found out that the bombers had spent the night in a nearby village and were planning to take women and children hostage.

Food for ten days was found in their hideout. "Their goal was perhaps the church, school or the mosque."

Suleman, 14, survived thanks to his father. He remembers the faces of the suicide bombers. "Two of them had more or less my age,” he said, “but they were carrying big guns. We found pieces of their bodies everywhere ".

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